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  • My first winter in Connecticut, after coming out of a nearly catatonic suicidal depression I’d been stuck in for months, I got involved in just about everything, all at once. That’s the way life was when I was “manic-depressive”, back before that term even existed, and way before it got replaced with term “bi-polar”. I was off the emotional roller-coaster by then, but back in late 1972, I was just embarking on my first good manic ride. It was one of my two real “doozies” of rides. The other would come 5 years later when I went AWOL from the Navy.

    But, in late ’72, I was suddenly going all out, balls to the wall, hitting life on all cylinders. I was writing for the college newspaper, heading up the phone bank at Democratic Headquarters in Windsor for George McGovern’s campaign against the hated Tricky Dick Nixon (my hatred for the man may have exceeded Hunter S. Thompson’s, if that’s even possible), starting up my own Coffee House on the town Green, the “Shady Grove Revisited”, booking acts from all over the greater Hartford, Ct./Springfield, Ma. Area, and dating girls like crazy.

    I had been dumped a couple months before by the first girl I ever fell head over heels in love with, and then a month later by the girl I’d subsequently lost my virginity to, so now I was simply on a mission to have as much fun as I possibly could, leaving love completely out of the equation, no ties, no pain.

    For a couple of months, I was more or less living the reckless life of a rock star. I don’t know how some of them managed that for years and years – it took me all of about 2 or 3 months to get completely burned out on it all. Of course, that also might have had something to do with the manic-depressive tendencies. I was definitely a real piece of work.

    During that winter, my friend Darrell Petrosky visited from Pittsburgh for a weekend. We cruised around town in my Mom’s 1970 Plymouth Valiant, hitting a few parties on a Saturday night after the Coffee House closed up. Darrell had a bag of some great weed, as he usually did, and stashed it in the little vent box near the floor on the passenger side of the car. We had given a couple guys a ride home from one of the parties at the end of the evening, and by the time we got back to my place, Darrell’s pot was missing. He was convinced that the one guy must have ripped him off – but, he didn’t make a big deal about it. Darrell was a pretty cool dude, and didn’t get easily upset about things. He had been my best friend in Pittsburgh my last year there, and it was just great having him up there on my new turf, seeing how life was going for me there. We never gave the missing bag of dope another thought.
  • A couple weeks later, I had borrowed Mom’s Valiant again to take my friend Nikki out to dinner and a movie. Nikki was a girl I just liked to hang out with, a very straight girl, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, she was in a committed relationship with a guy I knew, but was just a fun girl to be around. Very wholesome, but funny as hell. We had kind of a soul connection going on. She’d tried to convince her boyfriend, L.J. , that he had nothing to worry about with us going out together, but I think she also liked to try to make him jealous, and I had developed a reputation by then, so it worked. I still smile when I think about her. We laughed a lot together.

    The best laugh we ever had was this night, as we left the movie theater and I started up the car, blasting the heat because it was winter in Connecticut, and all of a sudden, stuff started flying out of the heat vents in the dashboard of the Valiant. It went everywhere, in our hair, all over the dashboard and the seats, and it really freaked us out - we were both shouting, “What the fuck is it?”, when Nikki just started laughing her ass off and rolling out.

    I was trying to figure out what was so funny, and she spitted out, “It’s grass, Pete – it’s grass!” I got even more confused, and said, “What the hell is grass doing in my Mom’s ventilation system, and it’s not even green, so what are you talking about?” “No, no, no, not that kind of grass – it’s Pot!” I put some of it in my mouth, and sure enough, it was Pot. I was still confused as hell, when it suddenly dawned on me – Darrell’s bag of dope! That guy hadn’t stolen it, after all! It had gotten sucked up into Mom’s ventilation system, and blessedly, hadn’t decided to come flying back out until that moment! I shuddered when I thought about what would have happened if it had blasted out at Mom while she was driving along!

    Nikki and I couldn’t stop laughing about it for quite awhile. We laughed so hard it hurt. From that time forward, that car had a new name for us. It was the Grass-O-Matic! Slices, dices, minces and chops, however you like it, yours for just $19.99 if you order it now, and we’ll throw in a free set of Ginsu knives and a cutting board!

    Just a funny moment, that came back to me this morning, for some completely unknown reason. The good old Grass-o-Matic story!
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